Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Lone Pine Capital has been having a rough time of it

'Of what, exactly?' Well, of "it". Can't you understand plain English? Let's move on. Please. Let's discuss Stephen Mandel. He's a strange one. (I think so, anyway.) "They" say that Mr Mandel is the founder, president, and managing director of Lone Pine Capital. Also, a portfolio manager at the hedge fund. All very impressive you might think - if you're the kind of person who's easily impressed. But I just have one question: why isn't Stephen Mandel the chief executive of Lone Pine Capital? What the hell is going on?! How can you be a founder, a president, a goddamn managing director (of all things), a fucking portfolio manager (if you can believe that), and not be the chief executive as well - to put the cherry on the cake, as it were? Or, or, or ... maybe, maybe, listen: he is the CEO, but he just hasn't told anyone, eh? Now, that would be clever. I can see how that would work. I mean, think about it. Lone Pine's funds have been having a rough time of "it" lately, the last quarter. The Lonely Dragon Pine fund lost 25.1 per cent! The Lone Cascade fund lost 14.3 per cent. And Lone Cypress is down 9.8 per cent, and Lone Kauri down 8 per cent. So, what do you do when angry investors come to your office with the obligatory pitchforks and torches? You say: 'Oh, sorry, the chief executive is out at the moment. Can you come back tomorrow?' And it's no use their asking who the chief might be. 'Oh, er, it's ... er, Mr Smith you want. No, uh, Mr Jones. Yes, Mr Jones. He'll be in tomorrow.' But of course tomorrow is another day. The outrage, the passion, dies. The investors wander back to their bedsits or trailers or whatever. Ha! You've got to take your hat off to Mr Mandel. He hasn't lasted this long in business by being a fool, has he?

Having written all that, I feel pretty confident that Lone Pine will recover. Every firm, every person, has a rough time of "it" every now and then. I'm speaking from experience. It can be a psychological thing. You can get trapped in a negative personality you've invented for yourself. (I've got the T-shirt.) But it's important you understand that you can reinvent yourself. You can go from being Prince Hamlet to Scarface - in an instant! It may be different with hedge funds, I don't know. However, I'm sure Mr Mandel will find a way without having to rely on the CEO trick - as ingenious as it is. (I'm still smiling to myself about it. What a character!) I am worried about the lonely dragon though. It's terrible being lonely. I'm writing from experience. Nobody loves you when you're down 25 per cent and almost out. But dragons are very resilient, aren't they? 'Are they? I didn't even know they existed.' Oh, they do in my reality, reader. The astral ... I won't go into it. I shouldn't, er ... / Remember this from 2010: 'The point I'm making is, these diamond dragons will find a way into the cold physical world; and they will be doing a damn sight more than advising. I mean, they're dragons! What do you think is going to happen? And they breathe fire. It's a fucking crazy idea!' - ? No? Well, it doesn't matter.

Finally, is there anything sadder than a lonely dragon? Probably not.